Initiation of veno-arterial (VA) Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenator (ECMO) is associated with severe complications. It is unknown whether these adverse consequences occur more often after initiations during out of hours service compared to working hours.
All patients receiving VA-ECMO for cardiogenic shock between 2009 and 2020 were categorized into a working hours group (between 8 am and 5 pm on weekdays) and an out of hours service group (between 5 pm and 8 am, or between Friday 5 pm and Monday 8 am). Primary outcome was all-cause mortality at 30 days. Secondary outcomes included vascular complications (including limb ischemia and/or bleeding), bloodstream infections and length of ICU stay. Propensity scores were used to adjust for potential confounding effects.
Among 250 patients (median (IQR) age 56 (42–64) years) receiving VA-ECMO (median duration 3.5 (1.0–9.0) days), 160 (64%) runs were initiated between 5 pm and 8 am whereas the remainder (36%) started during working hours. Characteristic did not differ between the working hours- and out of hours-group. By day 30, 37 (41.1%), and 68 (42.5%) patients in either group had died, respectively (p = 0.831). VA-ECMO support duration and length of stay on the ICU did not differ significantly in both crude and adjusted analyses. More complications occurred during out of hours service (p = 0.039).
Out of hours- versus working hours-initiation of VA-ECMO for cardiogenic shock was not associated with higher mortality, longer VA-ECMO support duration, or longer length of stay on the intensive care. Vascular complications were more common in the out of hours group.